Monday, 19 July 2010

an early look at candidates

In past years I've gone into some detail on the candidates available to me for the federal election. I'll probably do the same this year. I may be somewhat less engaged in the politics this time around (or maybe not), but the choice I have in my local electorate is much, much more interesting than it has been in the past. The official list of candidates won't be out for a couple of weeks, but there are three significant candidates each with more than 10 years experience as elected representatives in federal politics.

Arch Bevis has been the sitting ALP member for 20 years, but was marginalised at the last election being demoted from a high-profile shadow cabinet post to a minor role as a subcommittee chair.

Teresa Gambaro was the Liberal member for Petrie between 1996 and 2000, and was an assistant minister when she lost her seat.

Andrew Bartlett took the Queensland Democrats seat in 1997, then won it in his own right in 2001, before being defeated in 2007 when the party was wiped out. He is running this year for the Greens.

Last time around, Bevis grabbed 45%, the Libs 39%, and the Greens polled 12%, with Bevis winning the 2PP by 6.8%. Redistribution has narrowed that to 4.6%, and both the Libs and Greens are (in my opinion) fielding much stronger candidates than last time, so the seat promises to be very interesting in the primary. Having said that, I would expect a bump for the Greens, which might actually make Bevis safer on 2PP, even if his primary drops).

My first instinct is to go for Bartlett (West Wing indoctrination?). I don't like the Greens as a party - I think they're unconstructive - but I do like him as a candidate. I will have to look more closely at policy positions, though.


Andrew Bartlett said...

Hi. Thanks for the compliment (and I'd vote for President Bartlet too if I had the chance, even though he only has one 't' at the end of his name).

I'd suggest the Greens are not as unconstructive as you may think. That was one of my concerns about the Greens in years past, but they have evolved as they have gained more seats (and more responsibility) in the Senate over the last five years or so.

That doesn't mean you're bound to like all the Greens' policies, but I am comfortable the Greens are capable and willing to work in a constructive way in the federal Parliament - I wouldn't have joined them otherwise.

Jim said...

I will look more closely at the policies, and I hope you're right.

One of the things that has me most skeptical, though, is the stance they took on the ETS last year. I felt they took an initial position (and, eventually, inevitably, a final position) that made it impossible, or at least pointless, for the government to negotiate with them. As a result, they became irrelevant in a legislative endeavour that should have been their bread and butter.

But perhaps they've changed. I'll read the policies.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure it was the Greens who were unconstructive in that instance?

My impression is that the ALP didn't want to engage honestly with the the Greens because (1) they wanted the ETS as a political football against the Liberals; and (2) they didn't want to be seen as being in the pockets of the Greens, and indeed they liked being insulted by the Greens as a political strategy of looking centrist.

I also think the Greens were right in their assessment that the CPRS legislation was worse than nothing. And, if you think this is an important issue that requires quick unilateral action (something I question) then I think the Green policy at the moment is quite reasonable.

I'm not a big fan of the Greens, but at least you can say that they have principles & policy... and I think that Andrew is one of their less-bad candidates.

Having said that, I will suggest what I always suggest... try to find a candidate who will get less than 4% of the vote, and give them your first preference, so that you avoid giving taxpayer money to a political party. :)

Jim said...

As far as I understand it, the ALP basically had a choice of toning it down to satisfy the coalition, or beefing it up to satisfy the Greens. In order for the ALP's negotiations with the Greens to be useful, they had to also bring around 2 of Xenophon, Fielding, and the Coalition senators. That was only ever going to be possible with a conservative target, unfortunately.

It seems to me that by setting ambitious targets, far beyond what could have been stomached by any of the above crossbench conservative senators, the Greens by-default voted in favour of quick multilateral inaction. Which I don't think aligns with what their supporters would have wanted. Perhaps you're right that it isn't the best solution (although I personally think its madness to say that quick unilateral action isn't required), but they have to realise that they are not going to be setting policy any time in the next 10 years. The best they can realistically hope for is to influence it. If the ALP lose this election, its not too much of a stretch to say that the Greens won't have another chance to vote on emissions-related legislation until at least 2014.

They have principles, yes. The question I have on policy is whether they have workable policy designed to bring about real change, or policy positions designed to protest issues (and you I know you know all about those). If its it the latter, then I have no real interest using my vote to increase the presence they already have. Nor do I want to decrease it, but that's not in my power.